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Planet Music

June 11, 2007

Simulating sound on other planets can be a rockin’ good time.


Rockin’ out on Mars. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[Smoke on the Water riff]

Man, don’t you wonder what "Smoke on the Water" would sound like on Mars? You don’t? Well, physicist Andi Petculescu does.

ANDI PETCULESCU (University of Louisiana-Lafayette):
It’s one of my all-time favorite songs.

He works at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s come up with a new way of simulating sound on different planetary bodies. Here’s Venus:

[Smoke on the Water riff on Venus]

It’s chock-full of carbon dioxide, which steals energy from the riff’s high-frequency tones. Here’s Saturn’s moon Titan:

[Smoke on the Water riff on Titan]

Titan’s atmosphere is a lot like Earth’s, but it’s colder and under more pressure, so the sound travels farther and the music sounds louder. But what about Mars?

Mars would sound like this. [silence] So basically no sound.

Making it not such a great place for the next inter-planetary rock festival. Here on Earth, I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.